Thursday, September 21, 2006

Literary Blurbs

You know when you look at the back of a book and there are quotes (aka blurbs) from other writers saying nice things about the novel or author? It's part of a marketing strategy for you, the reader, to be convinced that this story is worth spending time and money on.

Well, those little blurbs may actually take some effort to get. A friend's publisher sent his book out to thirty writers to blurb. Not a single writer provided one.

At a luncheon, I met Michael Chabon. I asked him if he'd consider blurbing "Letter to Montgomery Clift." He said he only does it for friends. I wasn't his friend, so I slumped away.

I'd been asked to blurb books. I'm not asked to blurb a book that often, so I happily consented. Right now, we're looking for blurbs for "Talking to the Moon." My editor and I threw some names around. I personally asked two authors I really admire--I mean REALLY admire--to provide blurbs. They said they would, but I'm not holding my breath. I'm gritting my teeth believing that they'll read my novel and decide that they simply can't put their award-winning, bestselling names behind this mess of a book. Then they'll spread the word to their circle of writer-friends, booksellers, and literary critics that my second novel was a real stinker. This means my book is dead in the water even before its published. Then these writers I really admire avoid me at book fairs and writers conferences, whispering how I showed so much promise until THAT second book of his surfaced. And then--oh Gawd, Noel, get some sleep.


Sundry said...

Oh no. Funny writing, though! It'll be okay, little grasshopper.

circuitmouse said...

One theory has it that an agent worth one's contract will at least have lined up several other clients to do the favor. Same goes for one's editor and independent publicist, if you've hired one. There was something of an "author's Miss Manners" about this years back... those authors who blurbed your first book might a) be miffed if you didn't ask them (now that you're a bona fide literati star); b) graciously pass but be thankful and remember your courtesy in asking them; c) recommend friends who could provide you with a blurb; or d) come back for seconds and do you again.